Counting On …

6th November 2021

Today’s agenda at COP26 features ‘nature’ by which one might mean the state of flora and fauna when it is un-damaged by the impact of humans. There are large parts of the world which are termed as nature but which nevertheless have been subject to human impact  where the impact has not been negative or destructive. Re-wilding projects give us some idea of what nature would look like without any human impact – and it is amazing! Sadly there are many more places – on both land and at sea – where vast areas of nature have been severely damaged by human impact. And if global temperatures continue to rise (a direct result from human activity) those areas of damage  will only grow. Yet throughout history humans have been awed and inspired by nature, and at different times and in different ways, appreciated its value. And now we realising the multi faceted value of nature to our well being.

Green and blue spaces are good for our mental and physical health, as places of calm and relaxation, places for exercise, and as places of stimulus. 

From rain forests to peat bogs, oak trees to whales, we now better understand how nature provides the lungs for the planet absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. 

At the same time, many constituent parts of nature remove and absorb pollution, be that particulates produced by motor vehicles or by products of sewage and other waste.

Plants can be key ingredients in shaping localised climates creating more congenial living conditions.

Nature is ultimately the source of what we eat, as well as  providing medicines and health treatments. It is also the source of jobs – in farming, tourism and manufacturing.  

Mangroves like their land coastal and their water salty. This tree and shrub family is adapted to spend their lives between land and saltwater, sometimes growing up to 200 feet tall in the process. Mangroves can have their roots in shallow, salty water because they are also exposed to air for part of the day. Their roots use this time above water to sequester oxygen for when they’re submerged. Mangrove roots create some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth, as their intertwined structure provides habitat for sessile creatures like barnacles and creates protective nurseries for juvenile fish. Mangrove roots provide more than habitat though: they trap sediment to stabilise coasts, and bio-filtrate nutrients and pollutants out of the water. These ecosystems are massive carbon sinks, taking in and storing excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and water—an important attribute in the face of climate change. By Jessica Knoth, Marine Conservation Institute Communications Intern

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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